Mighty heroes joined forces to conquer legendary beasts, swashbuckling seafarers convened to swindle one another and clue-hungry sleuths unraveled elusive mysteries — all within the minds of Fall Minicon attendees on Saturday.
PolyCon — a student club that organizes gaming events each quarter — put on the mini convention, or “minicon,” which featured role-playing and card, board and video games in the University Union (UU), room 220, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The theme of the event, “Fall of the Dinosaurs,” was marked by inflatable dinosaurs throughout the room, as well as dinosaur-related elements that were incorporated into some of the games.
Attendees, numbering approximately 60 people at times throughout the day, gathered around numerous tables to play games such as “Street Fighter,” “Magic the Gathering” and the popular trading-based board game “The Settlers of Catan.”
PolyCon club member and materials engineering junior Catherine Mohan volunteered to organize the event.
Mohan said Cal Poly students, Cuesta College students and members of the general public came to participate.
“We have a lot of people that have been coming a long time, and they love this club,” Mohan said.
One of those people is mechanical engineering senior Ian Fraser, who has been a member of PolyCon for five years.
Fraser said the minicon had a “reasonable turnout,” even though it coincided with Cal Poly Parent and Family Weekend.
He said he’d like to see more people at future events, though.
“A lot of people find their own groups separately, like up in the dorms or somewhere, and play there,” Fraser said. “But we would like to get more people here to meet new people and play games that they’ve never heard of before.”
Among the lesser-known games newcomers might not have heard of are “Trail of Cthulhu,” a mystery-solving, role-playing game based on the novels of sci-fi author H.P. Lovecraft, and “Munchkin,” a fantasy card game that pokes fun at its own genre.
Another is the Renaissance-themed “7th Sea,” which PolyCon co-chair and mechanical engineering senior Andrew Wood said is one of his favorites.
Wood said he likes “7th Sea” because it is nearly historically accurate, which adds an academic element to its gameplay. Whether in hopes of getting more into character during a game or a better understanding of its historical context, gaming has led Wood to study up on subjects ranging from biology to religion, he said.
“When I get really excited about a game, I do a lot of background research,” Wood said.
But PolyCon events, such as Fall Minicon, also lead gamers to apply themselves creatively, according to John Keeler. He is a member of Cal Poly’s Game Theory Club, PolyCon’s sister club that meets every Friday in the Bioresources and Agricultural Engineering building, room 122.
Many of the games played at PolyCon events call for improvising characters, customizing decks and handcrafting miniatures, which Keeler said are opportunities for students in tech-oriented majors to pursue something artistic.
Keeler showcased one of his own game-inspired crafts on Saturday: a 3-D “The Settlers of Catan” gameboard.
“Everybody wants to play on this version of the game, whereas the cardboard game — if you look at it — is very flat,” Keeler said.
Keeler’s game setup is made out of plaster and embodies the topography and foliage that is merely imagined on the store-bought version of the game.
One reason Keeler chose to customize the board for this particular game is because “The Settlers of Catan” has been “radically popular in the last six years,” he said.
Keeler said the game, which involves collecting various commodities in order to be traded or spent on development, appeals to more people than other games do because it’s not as combat-based and allows players to cooperate.
“It’s geeky but not too geeky,” Keeler said.